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writing from NYC (almost)

December was a crazy month and it is my hope that my silence on this new communication method is forgivable. I have updates on Ethel, updates on Andrew and myself, and updates on our plans…so here goes!

After Ethel’s spinal tap, MRI, and meningitis diagnosis in early december and the subsequent outpouring of support from friends, family, and friends of friends and family, Ethel began a treatment of corticosteroids to stop her immune system from attacking the meninges around her spine (this is why meningitis can be more dangerous, if the swelling is around the brain instead of the spine, it affects much more than the nervous system functioning). Within days her balance was back, her energy was back, her excitement for food was back…it was glorious. As one might expect with steroids, the energy/intensity continued past Ethel’s “normal”, and she spent December excitable, more anxious/aggressive, and with an increased appetite for food/water that had her licking the floor and eating wood chips, resulting in an impressive weight gain and the need to feed her human diet food (carrots and celery, which she loves) for snacks during the day. She’s basically a little furry person.

What makes all of this even more exciting is the fact that Andrew, Ethel, and I left Madison on January 1st, spent a night in sketchy Elyria OH, arriving at Susan’s house for a short visit with the Cosgroves, transferring everything into my dad’s car, and arriving in Port Washington, Long Island in the evening on the 2nd. Ethel would have follow-up appointments at a dog neurologist here in NY, and Andrew and I would await her travel-readiness staying here with my super generous dad who’s agreed to have his home invaded for a month+…and wandering around the city. Not a bad situation, especially given the 35-40degree weather here and the freezing snowdrifts back in WI. It was time for us to have an adventure, even if it wasn’t the one we’d been planning.

Today we met with the neurologist who’ll be in charge of Ethel’s ‘roid reduction, and are formulating a departure plan. Everything is more complicated than it should be (when I imagine it all in my mind). The weaning process is less likely to cause a relapse if it goes slowly, meaning she’ll probably need to be on these steroids for 2-5 months. Not wanting to wait until then to head to Hanoi, we’ll leave while she’s still taking the meds (though in much smaller doses) and continue with a French vet in Hanoi…who has confirmed their ability to prescribe the same medication. Neurologists don’t do international health certificates, so we’ll need another general practitioner type vet here in NY. That person will want to meet Ethel ahead of the day we show up with a form for them to sign. Then we’ll need to find the nearest USDA office to get that form stamped and Ethel approved for export. And then we’ll go. We found an airline flying from JFK to Hanoi that cuts about 4 hours off our travel time, going through Taiwan, and who (for a small fee) will check on Ethel, refilling her food and water. Entirely worth it.

So the planning continues. In the meantime, Andrew and I are cooking great food, reading, wandering around New York, and taking Ethel for beach walks where she repeatedly tries to eat seaweed. I’ll get a chance to see my HWS ladies after way too long, and to eat quality bagels and pizza. Not the adventure we’d planned for January, but an adventure nonetheless. Vietnam hovers in the near future, so the delay and unexpected time here is turning out to be quite enjoyable.

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Today entailed [scheduled, not emergency] outpatient surgery and Season 1 of community and Frank cuddles.
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